High technology has inarguably made production better and more efficient in many parts of the manufacturing cycle, but sometimes, the old ways are the best ways.
LOOMING LARGE While lightening-fast electric looms now produce much of Missoni’s fabrics, the fashion firm’s knitwear DNA is inextricably meshed with 17 mechanical raschel looms, the first of which were acquired by Ottavio Missoni in 1969.
Traditionally used to create lace fabrics, Missoni knitwear technicians tweaked the raschel looms, adding extra warp yarns and stabilizing loom beams to achieve the iconic zigzag pattern — which requires as many as 960 yarns placed vertically on the warp.
Today, the old looms remain as the trusted workhorses in the factory in Sumirago, Italy. Missoni’s textile specialists continue to evolve their functionality, achieving 3-D and ombré effects as well as multilayered knit mixes of yarns such as silk, cashmere, linen and cotton.
STITCHES IN TIME Over more than five decades, Valentino’s seamstresses have embroidered, appliquéd and stitched on enough beads to create an embellished dress big enough to cloak the entire Eternal City, where the fashion house’s atelier resides.
The home of these couture sartorial skills, in Piazza Mignanelli, is divided into two workshops. Heavy fabrics and outerwear are handled by one group of tailors, while the other specializes in lighter textiles and embroideries. Bold, precise needlework from this workshop created the coral fronds that branch over several designs from Valentino’s couture fall collection. A cape and matching dress with the motif took 750 hours to complete. RELATED STORY: Training the Next Generation of Italian Artisans >>
SPECIAL EDITION Though he hailed from nearby Naples, Salvatore Ferragamo became the epitome of the Florentine artisan, moving his shoemaking business there in the Thirties.
Some of his shoemaking techniques are still used on the workshop floor today, and they are also behind the luxury brand’s new Special Edition shoes for men. Handmade in seven styles out of full grain, alligator or calf leather, every pair of Special Edition shoes is created with 260 handcrafted steps over three weeks in an atelier that produces only 10 pairs of shoes a day. Starting price: $2,100.
GEM FOCUS Serenity presides around Bulgari’s historical high-end jewelry workshop in Rome, where artisans listen to music through headphones to keep focused on their steady handiwork. Some peer through powerful magnifying glasses to mount tiny stones in elaborate designs, while others set bigger gems in a wax mold — a process used before a precious jewelry piece is cast in gold.
Bulgari’s forte for colored stones is shown in this tourmaline, amethyst and emerald necklace, where emerald beads are carefully attached to conical gold links. Each step of workmanship is meticulously examined by quality control before the final piece is ready to hit the glass case at retail.
FUR FORTITUDE Replete with dedicated fur artisans, Fendi’s in-house fur atelier has been part of the company since its founding in 1925. Over the decades, the highly skilled craftsmen have evolved and invented techniques to keep up with designer Karl Lagerfeld’s innovative renditions of the ultraluxe material.
Modern Fendi fur treatments include shearing, weaving, dyeing with edgy patterns such as camouflage, and even dipping some pelts in 24-karat gold.
Pictured, a key fall fur look for the brand, the elaborately made Astuccio fur. Created using the “let-out technique,” the fur is cut into long, thin stripes in a V shape. These stripes are then sewn back together on blocks in a staggered style to give the fur a longer shape.
The process demands a nimble, untiring hand — a mink cape takes about 220 hours to complete.
BAMBOO STORY Artisanship is behind Gucci’s most iconic accessories, but the story of the bamboo handle is also testament to the house’s style savvy.
In the midst of war-time rationing in 1947, fine leathers were scarce. The craftsmen heated bamboo cane imported from Japan, bending it into a semicircle as a handle on a small structured handbag. The Gucci Bamboo bag dangled from the arms of countless celebrities in the Fifties and Sixties, and was one of the Florentine fashion house’s most successful handbags.
Fond of updating house classics, Gucci creative director Frida Giannini reinterpreted the design in the New Bamboo, made up of 130 pieces hand-assembled by an artisan, requiring two days to finish.
The bamboo handle is still created as it was more than 65 years ago, and is featured on several other Gucci handbags and briefcase styles for fall, including the new Lady Lock women’s bag.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews